I feel awkward. The last time I was in a therapist’s office it right after my dad died. I was also alone. Now I’m sitting next to Sookie, looking at a guy that knows more about my sex life than any other man does.
“Eric, thank you for coming in today,” Dr. Brigant says.
“You’re welcome,” I smile. Sookie told me she doesn’t normally face Dr. Brigant, but we’re facing him now. She seems nervous.
“So Sookie, why don’t you tell Eric why we’re here,” he suggests.
“Because of what happened last time we were… intimate,” she says nervously.
I expected this so I take a deep breath and say, “I’m still so sorry about that. I never would have… if I didn’t think we were role-playing. That’s not an excuse though. What I did was wrong.”
“How does it feel to hear him say that, Sookie?”
“Honestly? Terrible,” Sookie replies. “Not because I’m not relieved that he recognizes his part, but because I wish it never happened.”
“I wish it didn’t happen too,” I tell her honestly. “I wish I would’ve never agreed to that kind of play in the first place knowing I’m not that… dominant.”
“Why did you?” Dr. Brigant asks me.
I think about it for a moment. When I finally get the words I look over at Sookie and say to her instead of Dr. Brigant, “You intrigued me then. When we talked about it, it turned me on. You turned me on. I figured it could help me get over my insecurities. There were a few reasons, I guess. When we met I was so overwhelmed by all of these feelings that I had I just… I… I thought I could, but as it turns out I was very, very wrong. I apologize, Sookie, for going along with it in the first place.”
“Do you carry regret over the assault?” Dr. Brigant asks.
“Yes.” It’s the truth. “It took me five months to sleep with my ex-girlfriend. When I did I was on the bottom and didn’t touch her at all.”
Sookie reaches over and holds my hand. When I look at her I see she’s already crying.
“What has you so upset, Sookie?” the doctor asks.
“I don’t like that he’s so hurt by this,” she says as she wipes her tears off her cheeks.
“I don’t like that I did it, and I certainly don’t like that it’s affected you this way,” I whisper.
“It’s my fault,” she says. “If I had just let you be yourself it wouldn’t have happened.”
“No, it’s not your fault. You said no, I didn’t listen,” I tell her, reaching up to wipe her tears.
“Do you hear that, Sookie?”
She nods but tears are pouring out of her. I pull her over and wrap my arms around her. It kills me to see her cry like this, especially since it’s over something I did. Four years ago when she walked away the feelings I had were mainly sexual. The feelings I have now are far more intense. I can’t say I love her, but I can see falling in love with her easily. I’m already in love with Brie, and if this doesn’t work out for us I’m going to be heartbroken.
“Last session we talked about trust,” Dr. Brigant says. “An experience like the one you two shared is one that will make trusting difficult. We also talked about expectations. Sookie relayed worry that you’ll feel like you’re being taken advantage of if she asks for too much help, particularly because this isn’t currently a sexual relationship.”
“Sookie, I don’t feel like you’re taking advantage of me. I love Brie and I would help you with her even if we weren’t in a relationship. As for the sex, that can wait until you’re ready. I will be here when you need me. Right now we’re building the friendship we didn’t get to build the first time around,” I say quietly.
“What if I’m never ready?” Sookie asks and takes the box of Kleenex Dr. Brigant offers her.
“Sookie, you’re still healing emotionally. It’s to your benefit that you’re not sexually active, as frustrating as it may be,” he tells her.
“You’ll be ready one day, Sookie.” I know how much it scares her that she’ll never want sex again. “The kissing is already a huge step.”
“I just want to feel normal,” she sighs.
“You will. Remember this is a process. There are no quick fixes, but you are making progress and talking about all the things you’ve kept buried is going to lighten your load,” Dr. Brigant says.
“I’m here to help you with whatever you need, Sookie. I care about you quite a bit,” I smile softly and stroke her hair back. I’m making it a point to talk to her and not Dr. Brigant.
“I know you do,” she smiles at me.
“I asked Sookie if she wants this relationship to move forward,” he says.
“What was your answer?” I ask quietly.
“I do,” she says. “I want to work through this… with you.”
“Me too,” I say and pull her in for another hug.
Sookie hugs me back and kisses my chin. I hold her longer than I probably should in mixed company, but I don’t care.
“We’ll get through this,” I promise her and kiss her forehead.
“I’d like to suggest that you have one designated date night a week without the baby around,” Dr. Brigant says. “It’s important that your identity as a couple isn’t defined by Brie. I think it’s also been established that Sookie needs to give herself more breaks. Plus, it’s a good thing for Brie. She needs to learn that her parent will go and come back. Does that sound like something feasible?”
“I think so,” Sookie looks at me.
“I’ll remind you if you start to waver,” I tell her and stroke her hair back again.
“I know you will,” Sookie chuckles.
I smile and lean down to kiss the tip of her nose.
Dr. Brigant asks us a few more questions about our relationship and by the time the hour is up, I can tell Sookie feels better.
“Before we go I want to say something,” Sookie turns toward me and takes both of my hands. “I forgive you, Eric.”
“Thank you,” I whisper. I didn’t know I needed to hear that until I feel my eyes welling up. “That means more to me than you’ll ever know.”
She smiles and leans in to hug me. She kisses my cheek and whispers, “I need to forgive you so I can forgive myself.”
“I’m proud of you, Sookie,” I say quietly. I think this was a really good idea.
“Thank you,” she says and pulls back so we can get up.
“Thank you for coming in today, Eric.” Dr. Brigant stands up as well and extends his hand to me.
“Thank you for having me,” I smile and shake his hand.
As Sookie and I are walking out I reach over to take her hand.
“When do you want to go on the first date?” I ask her.
“How about Saturday? It just so happens there’s a wedding…”
“I’d love to go to the wedding with you, but we can’t count it as date night. Brie will be there,” I remind her.
“She’ll be there for the ceremony and pictures, but then Mom is taking her for the night.”
“So we can get stumbling drunk and pass out on the stairs?” I chuckle.
“Exactly,” Sookie laughs. “Maybe we can burn my bridesmaid’s dress.”
“I think we should wait till we’re sober for that,” I laugh. “Remember there’s always payback. When you get married one day make sure to find the ugliest dress you can find for her.”
“I wouldn’t be that mean.”
“Because you’re a kind woman, I like that about you,” I tell her. We’ve reached the car and I stop her before I open the door for her. “I’m happy we did this today,” I whisper, looking down into her eyes.
“Me too. Thank you for coming.”
“You’re welcome.” I tilt her head up and place a gentle kiss on her lips.
Her hands cup my face and to my surprise, Sookie deepens the kiss. I go with it. I wrap my arms around her and pull her as close as possible as my head turns into the kiss. I pull her back with me as I fall against the car.
It’s like having the old Sookie back for a minute. Her fingers run through my hair and she only pulls back to breathe.
“I needed that,” she whispers.
“You can have it whenever you need it,” I say and kiss her neck.
“So can you,” she moans.
“Good to know,” I whisper against her skin and my hands slide down to grab her ass.
“We should go home if you want to get handsy,” she murmurs.
“Yes, ma’am,” I smile and give her a quick peck before I open the car door to let her into the car.
Sookie smiles at me and gets in the car.
“Sook, my mom is hounding me about bringing you and Brie over to meet her,” I say as Sookie is giving Brie her bath.
“We could go over one day next week if that works for her,” she says as she lathers Brie’s hair.
“I’m sure it will. I think she’s seeing someone, or several someones, so I’ll have to make sure her schedule is clear,” I laugh.
I take my phone out of my pocket and call my mother.
“Hello, my golden boy,” Mom says cheerfully.
“Hi, Mom, I’m calling to see when you want me to bring Sookie and the baby over. We have a wedding this weekend, but we can come by next week.”
“Oh good! Tuesday would be fantastic,” she says.
I cover my phone and ask Sookie, “Babe, how would Tuesday work for you?”
“Tuesday is good,” Sookie says. When she starts to rinse Brie, the baby starts crying.
“Tuesday works, Mom,” I say as I step out of the room. I’m sure Mom heard her anyway.
“Awww what’s wrong with that little angel?”
“Bathtime, she doesn’t like when Sookie hoses her down,” I chuckle. Poor girl. She loves bathtime until it’s time to rinse.
“Gotcha. Nora used to scream all through her baths. You just liked to pee everywhere.”
I still pee down the drain in the shower. Mom doesn’t need to know that.
“Thank fuck I don’t remember Nora screaming like that. She’s loud enough now, I can’t imagine,” I laugh.
“Speaking of your sister, Franklin showed up to see Drew today,” Mom informs me.
“Did she rip him a new asshole? I will if she didn’t. Except I’ll do it literally.” I don’t like Drew’s sperm donor very much. When he told Nora the baby wasn’t his I may or may not have knocked one of his teeth out.
“She reminded him in her polite, ladylike way, that he denied being Drew’s father so there was no reason to see him,” she says.
“The unfortunate part is Drew is the spitting image of Franklin. Did he say why he suddenly wanted to see him?”
Mom snorts and says, “For tax reasons, if you can believe that shit.”
“Nora has never been known for her good judgment,” I laugh. Thank fuck she and Roman broke up before she moved to London with him.
“She’s impulsive like your father was,” she sighs. “But at least we got that little sweetheart out of the deal.”
“I need to go see them. I’m still trying to get Drew to call me Eric, not Ehwic,” I say. It makes me wonder how Brie is going to say my name.
“And Nora is trying to teach him to call you Pinky.”
“She’s weird. Did I already tell you Tuesday works?” Sookie comes walking out with Brie wrapped in her baby towel. She’s still pissed about being rinsed.
“You did. Come by whenever. I’ll make my cheesy meatloaf,” she says.
“Okay. I’m gonna go. I love you,” I say as I start to head into Brie’s room with Sookie.
“I love you too, golden boy. Kiss that baby for me.”
“I will,” I promise and we hang up with our plans set.
“Thal, suck it in,” I say as I tug on the zipper of her gown. I told her it was a mistake to take it in more.
“It’s sucked in. It’s my boobs. That twat took it in too much,” she says and I hear her suck in a breath again.
I fight with the zipper for a minute before finally getting it all the way up.
“Disco!” I say with relief. “Don’t worry; you’ll breathe again in eleven hours.”
“You sure? I might just wear my Bride robe,” she tells me as she looks at herself in the mirror.
“You’re the one that wanted a tight dress,” I shrug.
“I said form fitting, not something you can see my spleen in.”
“You picked this,” I laugh and grab her veil to tuck it in place.
“It looks good and Mustafa is going to pop a boner as soon as he sees me. That’s good enough for me… speaking of boners… have you taken a ride on McCreamy’s pogo stick yet?”
“Classy,” I snort. “And no, I haven’t. But he did get to play with the twins last night after the rehearsal dinner.”
“Poor guy,” she laughs. “His balls are probably so blue they’re turning black by now. I bet he’s going to look delicious in his suit.”
“That’s a safe bet on the suit. You can ask him about his balls after the ceremony,” I chuckle.
“I doubt I’ll have to. Once he sees you in that dress everybody in the room will know how he feels.”
“We’ll see,” I shrug. “Besides, today is about you and you look amazing.”
“I know,” she winks. “I’m guaranteed to get laid. I’m more worried about you.”
“I just have to say the word.”
“I’m going to tattoo ‘word’ to your forehead,” she laughs.
“Uh, no, you’re not,” I laugh. “I’ll get there when I’m ready.”
There’s a knock on the door and the wedding planner sticks his head in to tell us we have five minutes before we have to be downstairs for pictures.
“This is it,” she whispers. She actually looks nervous for once.
“Wanna make a run for it?” I ask.
“No. I’m worried he won’t be there,” she admits. “I’m so wild compared to him. What if he finally realized this is a mistake?”
“Thal, he adores you,” I assure her. “He gets you and all that super annoying shit you do? He thinks it’s cute.”
“He must be insane,” she laughs.
“Which is why you’re perfect for each other.” I lean in and hug her. “Now let’s go find the cutest flower girl in the world.”
“Ooh, yes. I need to see that,” she grins.
I grab our bouquets and my clutch, and then we leave the hotel room to get the wedding started.
I cry during the ceremony, but that’s not a surprise. It’s a beautiful ceremony, right up to the part when Brie starts screaming her little head off because I’m not holding her. Mom can’t get here soon enough. I can tell Brie is over her dress. I can relate.
After the ceremony I find Eric in the crowd gathered outside of the hotel. I haven’t seen him all day. Just as Thal predicted, he looks yummy in his suit.
“Look at you, handsome,” I smile at him.
“Hey, you,” he smiles back and leans down to kiss me. “You look amazing.”
Brie grabs my earring and pulls.
“Ahhh! No, Brie!” I yell and pull her hand away, making her cry again.
“At least she’s cute,” Eric chuckles.
“Some times more than others,” I sigh. Brie goes for my earring again and I swat her hand. “I said no,” I say firmly and she goes from mad to full meltdown.
“Uh… when should your mom be here?” Eric asks and reaches out to take her from me.
“Within the hour, thankfully. She’s probably overtired and hungry,” I tell him. “Her diaper bag should be under the head table in the hall. Will you give her a bottle for me? I have to go take pictures.”
“Yep. Go, you still look beautiful,” he says.
“Thanks. You’re a lifesaver.” I give him a kiss and then hurry off to join the rest of the bridal party for pictures.
Thankfully Thalia keeps it short since it’s chilly outside. I cringe every time I look at the dresses the other girls are wearing. By comparison, mine is divine. It’s just the color I can’t get past, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ll never wear this dress again.
After pictures are done I go inside to warm up and check on Eric. I stop by the bar to get us drinks and find him sitting at his table with some old coworkers Thal stayed friends with. Brie is conked out in his arms.
“Here, I thought you could use one of these.” I set a beer down in front of him.
“Thanks, babe,” he smiles up at me. “How did the pictures go?”
“Pretty good. Thal and Mustafa are still taking a few. The best man tried to grab my ass,” I chuckle.
“Really? I might need to have a talk with him,” Eric tells me.
“Or you could just leave it alone,” I counter and check my phone. I have a text from Mom letting me know she’s on her way. Thank God.
“If I have to,” he grins.
“I think it would be for the best. I’m not sure if Mr. Clean is any good at listening, but he’s a professional fighter so I know he’s good at throwing punches.”
“Fine. I get it, you want me to stay this pretty,” he teases. I think he still has no idea how handsome he is.
‘That’s exactly it.” I lean over to kiss him.
There’s enough time to say hello to my old coworkers and then I have to go line up with the bridal party so we can make our big entrance. I leave my phone with Eric in case Mom calls or texts. I’m pretty sure Quinn, the best man, will be throwing up before the cake is cut.
“Heeeey, Sookie, I have an idea,” he slurs.
This oughta be good.
“What’s that, Quinn?”
“How about I give you a piggyback ride into the reception?”
“I’m not sure that’s what Thal wants. Let’s just walk like normal people,” I suggest.
“Bummer,” he says with disappointment.
Because my best friend has a sense of humor, we walk into the reception to the tune of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’. Quinn successfully gets his hand on my ass when he ‘stumbles’ over something. Lucky for him, Eric is holding my daughter.
Eric signals me when Mom arrives and I excuse myself so I can go hand off the baby to her. Since Brie is sound asleep I settle for kissing her little face after Eric hands her to Mom.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Peanut,” I whisper. “Thank you for taking her, Mom.”
“It’s no trouble. You two have fun,” Mom says and kisses my cheek before she turns to go.
“Are you ready to go party like adults?” Eric asks once Mom drives away.
“Yep. Don’t be surprised if Thal asks you what color your balls are,” I warn him.
“I’m waiting for it,” he chuckles.
“She might try to get in there to see for herself.”
“I won’t let her. That region is for your eyes only,” he says and turns me to kiss me. Hard.
Compensating for the ass grab, no doubt.
I moan into the kiss but pull back before either of us can get too caught up in it.
“I have to go give my toast and then my duties are fulfilled aside from bathroom trips,” I tell him.
“I’ll be waiting,” he purrs and kisses me softly on the neck.
We walk back into the reception and my ass gets grabbed a second time as I walk by Eric. I smile at him over my shoulder and take my seat beside Mustafa at the head table. I’m not the greatest at public speaking, but it’s not like I could say no to Thal when she asked me to do this.
Here goes nothing…